London, Volume 1

Knight, Charles







Could we imagine any calamity to occur to London which should utterly sweep away all those outward evidences of her greatness which more particularly excite the wonder and admiration of the world, and reduce her to as dread a ruin as that which the author of the

Fairy Queen


High towers, fair temples, goodly theatres,

Strong walls, rich porches, princely palaces,

Large streets, brave houses, sacred sepulchres,

Sure gates, sweet gardens, stately galleries,

Wrought with fair pillars and fine imageries;

All these, oh pity! now are turn'd to dust,

And overgrown with black oblivion's rust ;

could we imagine that this great capital of capitals should ever be what Babylon is,--its very site forgotten,-- could not but almost envy the delight with which the antiquaries of that future time would hear of some discovery of a still remaining. We can fancy we see the progress of the excavators from part to another of the mighty, but for a while inexplicable, labyrinth, till the whole was cleared open to the daylight, and the vast system lay bare before them, revealing in the clearest language the magnitude and splendour of the place to which it had belonged, the skill and enterprise of the people. Let us reflect for a moment upon what this system accomplishes. Do we want


water in our houses?-we turn a small instrument, and the limpid stream from the springs of Hertfordshire, or of Hampstead Heath, or from the river Thames, comes flowing, as it were by magic, into our vessels. Do we wish to get rid of it when no longer serviceable?-the trouble is no greater; in an instant it is on its way through the silent depths. Do we wish for an artificial day?-through that same mysterious channel comes streaming up into every corner of our chambers, counting-houses, or shops, the subtle air which waits but our bidding to become --light! The tales which amuse our childhood have no greater marvels than these. Yet, as the very nature of a system of underground communication precludes it from being of the shows of the metropolis, we seldom think of it, except when some such picturesque scene as that shown in the engraving calls our attention to those gloomy regions, or when we hear of people wandering into them from the Thames till they find or above their heads.[n.226.1]  It is principally to the growth of this system in its chief features, the sewage and supply of water, that we now propose to request our readers' attention.

Anciently, until the time of the Conqueror, and

two hundred

years later, this City of London was watered (besides the famous river of Thames on the south part) with the river of the Wells, as it was then called, on the west; with a water called


running through the midst of the City into the river of Thames, severing the heart thereof; and with a


water, or bourn, which ran within the City through Langbourn Ward, watering that part in the east. In the west suburbs was also another great water, called Oldborn, which had its fall into the river of Wells.

[n.226.2]  To this we may add, from Fitzstephen,

There are also about London, on the north of the suburbs, choice fountains of water, sweet, wholesome, and clear, streaming forth among the glistening pebble-stones. In this number- Holywell, Clerkenwell, and Saint Clement's Well are of most note, and frequented above the rest when scholars and the youth of the City take the air abroad in the summer evenings.

We fancy the worthy ancient who describes this scene, amidst which, no doubt, he had himself often sauntered, now stopping to admire the

glistening pebble-stones,

now reclining beneath the shade of some of the trees that bordered the stream, would be puzzled could he see Clerkenwell now. This part took its name

from the parish clerks in London; who, of old time, were accustomed there yearly to assemble, and to play some large history of Holy Scripture. For example, of later time,--to wit, in the year


, the


of Richard II.,--I read that the parish clerks of London, on the

18th of July

, played interludes at Skinner's Well, near unto Clerks' Well, which play continued


days together; the King, the Queen, and nobles, being present. Also in the year


, the


of Henry IV., they played a play at the Skinner's Well which lasted


days, and was of matter from the creation of the world. There were to see the same the most part of the nobles and gentles in England.




All the streams which Fitzstephen mentions flowed into the river of Wells, and, in fact, gave that name to it; although it appears to have been also known from a very early period as the Fleet. As this river forms an important illustration of our subject generally, we may as well notice such other running streams that originally watered and drained London as had no connection with the Fleet. The Wall-brook came from the north (probably Moor) fields, and, entering the City wall between and Bishopsgate, divided the City into parts.

From the wall it passed to

St. Margaret's Church



; from thence beneath the lower part of the Grocers' Hall, about the east part of their kitchen; under St. Mildred's Church, somewhat west from the Stocks Market; from thence through


, by


great house builded of stone and timber, called the

Old Barge,


barges out of the river of Thames were rowed up so far into this brook

; on the back side of the houses in

Walbrook Street

(which taketh name from the said brook); by the west end of

St. John's Church



; under Horseshoe Bridge; by the west side of Tallow Chandlers' Hall, and of the Skinners' Hall; and so behind the other houses to Elbow Lane, and by a part thereof down Greenwich Lane into the river of Thames.


As the City increased in wealth and importance, and became the centre towards which the wealthiest merchants and men of business pressed, every inch of ground grew valuable. Bridges here and there were thrown over the , and houses erected upon them; the example became generally followed; until at last the whole was arched over as it remains to this day. Some interesting traces of this once

fair brook of sweet water

were recently discovered. In making the excavations for the new line of streets north of the , the soil at the depth of feet below the present surface was found to be moist, highly impregnated with animal and vegetable matter, and almost of inky blackness in colour. Throughout the same line were at intervals noticed a vast and almost continuous number of piles, which in were particularly frequent, and where also they descended much deeper. From this we may perceive at what an early period the had been embanked, and how important its stream must have been thought when such extensive labours were bestowed upon it. The Langbourn, which gave name to the ward, and was so called from the length of its winding stream, has disappeared in the same way as the . This welled out of the ground in , and ran through Lombard and other streets to Share-bourn Lane, which received that name on account of the here or dividing into several rills, taking each a separate way to the Thames.

The source of that river which Pope has immortalized as

The king of dykes! than whom no sluice of mud

With deeper sable blots the silver flood,

is in a spot somewhat different from the place where might look for it who knew it only by Pope's famous allusions. The Fleet has its origin in the high grounds of that most beautiful of heaths, Hampstead; nor did its waters for some centuries belie the place of their birth. From Hampstead it passed by Kentish Town, Camden Town, and the old church of , towards ,


in the neighbourhood of which place an anchor is said to have been found, from which it is inferred that vessels must have anciently passed from the Thames so far up the river. It next directed its course past and the , towards the valley at the back of , , and , and so to the bottom of . Here it received the waters of the Old Bourne (whence the name ), which rose near , and the channel of which forms the sewer of to this day. We have Stow's express testimony to the ancient sweetness and freshness of the Fleet; but it did not long retain its original character when a busy population had gathered upon its banks. So early as the monks of White Friars complained to the King and Parliament that the putrid exhalations arising from it were so powerful as to overcome all the burnt at their altars during divine service, and even occasioned the deaths of many of the brethren. The monks of the Black Friars, and the Bishop of Salisbury, whose house was in , joined in the complaint. The state of the river appears to have been as injurious to the commerce, also, as to the health of the metropolis. At a Parliament held at Carlisle in , Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, complained that, whereas, in times past, the course of water running at London, under Old Borne Bridge and Fleet Bridge, into the Thames, had been of such breadth and depth that or ships, navies at once with merchandizes, were wont to come to the foresaid bridge of Fleet, and some of them unto Old Borne Bridge; now the same course (by filth of the tanners and such others) was sore decayed; also by raising of wharfs, but especially by

diversion of the water made by them of the New Temple, for their mills standing without Baynard's Castle.

The river was accordingly cleansed, and the mills, which for a time gave to it the name of Turnmill Brook, removed; but it did not recover its former depth or breadth. From that time down to the last century numerous were the occasions on which it was found necessary to scour the whole channel through; and towards the close of the century a great endeavour was made to accomplish a still more important measure--that was the


bringing together into head, at or near Hampstead, all the springs that supplied it, in the hope that thus a sufficient stream might be obtained to keep the river constantly clean. The attempt, however, failed, and from that time may be dated the regular progress of the decline of the once important . About this period it lost the charm attached to the name of ; it became known as the . The river never looked up after that. Everything was done for it that could be done. The Lord Mayor and the civic authorities, in , cleansed it as before, and caused floodgates to be made in


Ditch and Fleet Ditch,

with some little benefit. Several interesting remains were discovered on this occasion. At the depth of feet were found Roman utensils, and a little deeper a great quantity of Roman coins, in silver, copper, brass, and other metals, but more in gold. At Bridge were found brazen lares, or household gods of that people, about inches long--the a Bacchus, the other a Ceres. Maitland and Pennant concur in thinking it highly probable that these were thrown in by the afrighted Romans at the approach of Boadicea, when of their people were slain and the city reduced to ashes. Some similar circumstance appears to have occurred in a later time, from the number of Saxon antiquities found in the same place, including spurs, weapons, keys, seals, medals, crosses, and crucifixes. After the fire of London, the Fleet was again cleansed, deepened, and enlarged, and various other improvements made. The sides were built of stone and brick, with warehouses on each side, which ran under the street, and were designed to be used for the laying in of coals and other commodities. It had now feet water at the lowest tide at Bridge; the wharfs on each side of the channel were feet broad, and were rendered secure from danger in the night by rails of oak being placed along it. Over the ditch were stone bridges-viz. at (close to the Thames), , Fleet Lane, and . The old river once more bore the broad barges of the merchants up even to Bridge. Unfortunately, however, but a few years elapsed before it was as muddy, noisome, and useless as ever. The wits now began to let fly their merciless shafts at it. notorious offender in particular had the impudence to summon the heroes of his



Where Fleet Ditch, with disemboguing streams,

Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,

with the invitation-

Here strip, my children; here at once leap in,

And prove who best can dash through thick and thin.

This was too much. Within the next years the unfortunate river ceased to trouble its enemies any longer. In a petition was presented to Parliament, in which we find the petitioners stating that

a part of the said channel, from Fleet Bridge to


Bridge, instead of being useful to trade, as was intended, is not only filled up with mud and become useless, but is now, and for some years past hath been, a common nuisance; and that several persons have lately lost their lives by falling into the same.

To remedy this state of things the petitioners prayed for power to fill up the channel of the Fleet from Bridge to Fleet Bridge; and next year a bill was brought in to accomplish their desire The late Fleet Market soon occupied the site of the river from to Fleet Bridge; and, somewhat later (in ), the present the remainder


of its course to the Thames, including its mouth, where the


were formerly wont to ride. Henceforward the history of the Fleet merges into the general history of the sewers of the metropolis.


It is not easy to form an adequate conception of the inconvenience and annoyance which the inhabitants of London must have experienced before the formation of underground communications for carrying off the drainage of private houses. Soil had to be carried from the houses to places appointed by the City authorities, and there were no means of avoiding those domestic inconveniences which were experienced until within a recent period in Edinburgh, and are still so annoying to the inhabitants of many towns on the Continent. In the public laystalls and dunghills were at Mile End, Dowgate Dock, , and Whitefriars. The consequences were, that Pestilence and Disease marked the city as their own.


time with another,

says Sir William Petty, writing towards the close of the century,

a plague happeneth in London every



In short, London generally must have been then almost as bad as is now I The attempt of any importance in the way of remedy was an act passed in , appointing a commission, the members of which were authorised

to survey the walls, streams, ditches, banks, gutters, sewers, gotes, calcies, bridges, trenches, mills, milldams, floodgates, ponds, locks, and hebbing wears.

Under this very act, passed in the reign of Henry VIII., of the existing boards of commissioners still exercise their powers. From the passing of that act down to the present time the progress of improvement has been slow but steady; and although much still remains to be done, enough has been accomplished to make London in all these matters an example to most of her sister capitals throughout the world. We must notice a few of the chief features of the system. The metropolitan district of sewers includes an area of miles round the General Post Office, which is subdivided, and placed under the management of the


we have mentioned. The commissioners assess the inhabitants in their respective districts to the sewer-rate, which is expended in the repair of old sewers or in the forming of new. When the


older commissions were instituted, surface drainage alone was thought of; and as all the houses on the line were considered to be benefited by it, all were taxed for its support. The covering in of these ancient drains has, however, given an advantage to all those persons whose houses have a direct communication with them, which should have been followed by a corresponding arrangement with regard to payments. But at present houses which have no underground communication with the main sewers pay precisely the same as if they had. It is to be hoped that this difficulty will be ultimately, got rid of through the facilities afforded (and which are continually increasing) of extending the advantages of the system to every part of the metropolis. In all that concerns this subject we have every of us the deepest interest. Dr.--Southwood Smith's striking observation to the Committee on the Health of Towns should be constantly remembered:


he says,

you were to take a map and mark out the districts which are the constant seats of fever in London, as ascertained by the records of the

Fever Hospital

, and at the same time compare it with a map of the sewers of the metropolis, you would be able to mark out invariably and with absolute certainty where the sewers are and where they are not, by observing where fever exists; so that we can always tell where the commissioners of sewers have been at work by the track of fever.

The progress of the sewage in London is now, however, very rapid, and but a few years more will elapse before the system must become essentially complete. At present the aggregate length of the sewers of the metropolis is enormous; and there is, perhaps, no other instance to be found where the expenditure of the requisite capital has been attended with such beneficial results. From to the number of sewers either built wholly or in part in the City district was , some of them of very large dimensions; and - of the sewers had been made in the years preceding . But a few facts relating to the and Finsbury Division will most strikingly illustrate the extent and rate of progress of the London Sewage. In this, the length of main covered sewers is miles; the length of smaller sewers to carry off the surface water from the streets and roads, miles; the length of drains leading from houses to the main sewers, miles; and the length of main sewers constructed within the years, miles. From , to (a period of years and a half), there was constructed of the above, miles; and from , to (a period of years), the length of main covered sewers constructed was miles. The very poorest parts of London now alone remain to be intersected with an underground communication; and, looking at what has been already done, we cannot despair of the accomplishment of the rest. Indeed, the bill at present before Parliament, with every probability of being passed, will effect whatever is necessary. It provides that no future houses shall be built without sufficient drainage, and that the occupants of those already erected shall construct drains where requisite.

The works of the Metropolitan Sewage are as large as their objects are extensive. The general rule of the Commissioners of Sewers appears to be, not to make any public sewers which workmen cannot enter for the purpose of effecting repairs. The great drain which once formed the channel of the Fleet from


Bridge is now divided into branches, which are carried along each side of . Its commencement is from springs on the south of the ridge of Hampstead and Highgate Hills; and in its course it receives the drainage of parts of Hampstead and Highgate,--all Kentish Town, Camden Town. and Somers Town,--parts of , Clerkenwell, St. Sepulchre,--and nearly all that part of the Division south of the from Paddington to the City. The total surface draining into it in the and Finsbury Division is about acres. When Mr. Roque made his survey of London, in , there was of this surface about acres covered with streets and buildings: the surface now covered with streets and buildings is about acres. There has consequently since then been much less absorption through all those parts, and the waters to be carried off by the Fleet sewer have increased in proportion; so that it became necessary to enlarge the whole line from the City near Bridge to , Kentish Town. The length was feet, the estimated cost Of this length, feet has been completed since , at a cost of ; and a further length of feet is in progress, estimated at ; leaving only feet to complete the line--the greater part of which will be carried along in the direction of the new street leading from towards . The portion now remaining open will then be arched over. The size of the sewer as enlarged varies, according to the locality, from feet high by feet wide to feet high by feet wide; then feet inches wide by feet inches high; and at the upper or northern portion it is feet inches high by feet inches in width. The size of the old sewer at the northern portion was feet inch wide by feet high, with a superficial area of feet inch: the enlarged sewer at that point has a superficial area of feet. Before reaching the Thames the dimensions of this great sewer are feet wide and feet inches high, and at its mouth it is feet by feet. In the sudden thaw of last winter the superficial area occupied by the water at the northern portion of the sewer was feet, so that, had the sewer remained in its original capacity, a great part of Kentish Town and other parts must have been flooded to a considerable depth. To prevent the contents of the sewer from being deposited on the bank of the river at low water, they are carried some distance into the Thames by an iron culvert, and thus are swept away by the tide. The water in this important drain sometimes rises feet almost instantly after heavy showers--the surface waters collected in its upper course and by its tributaries rolling in a dark and turbid volume to the Thames. The ordinary movement of the current from is miles an hour. The sewer from Bars to Bridge (formerly the channel of the Old Bourne) is of the most considerable feeders of the Fleet. It is feet high and feet in width. The smaller public sewers are from feet high by feet wide to feet high and feet in width, the average size being feet by feet. The private drains from each house enter the main sewer in all cases about feet from its level, and have a descent of inch in , their diameter being inches. These drains carry off every description of refuse, with the exception of such as is conveyed away by the dustmen, a remarkable class of London characters, who seem indigenous to the soil. Mr. Roe, the surveyor of the divisions, has made a series of scientific


experiments, with a view of ascertaining the best and most economical mode of cleansing the sewers, the deposit at the bottom of which averages c inch yearly; and he has invented an ingenious apparatus for using water in flushes, by which the sewers are effectually scoured. The water used for forming a head is contracted for with the water-companies, and amounts to about hogsheads yearly. When a sewer is to be cleansed the water is backed up, and when let off cleanses the sewer to an extent proportionate to the quantity of head-water, the fall of the sewer, and the depth of the deposit. By providing heads of water at suitable distances from each other, and


them periodically, perhaps or times a-year, the deposit of sediment might be prevented from accumulating at all, which is surely a most important improvement to the health of so densely crowded a population as that of London. The saving effected is very considerable; but the great benefit to the public consists in sweeping off the foul deposit which would otherwise remain for years, and at particular periods, when in a state of fermentation, creates that noxious effluvia which is at once disagreeable and dangerous. The breaking up of streets to cleanse the sewers, when their contents are deposited on the surface, is avoided by means of Mr. Roe's flushing apparatus. Under the old system the deposit accumulated at the bottom of sewers until the private drains leading into it became choked; and it was only from the complaints arising from this circumstance that the officers of the Commission of Sewers became aware of the state of the main drain; so that not only the main sewer, but the smaller drains connected with it, were generally choked at the same time.

Any who has seen London at night, from some elevation in the neighbourhood, will readily understand how minute, as well as extensive, must be the network of pipes overspreading its soil a few feet below the surface, to afford an unfailing supply to that glorious illumination. The history of gas we have already referred to in

Midsummer Eve ;

[n.233.1]  we need therefore only add to that account the following very striking summary of the statistics of the system:--

For lighting London and its suburbs with gas, there are eighteen public gas-works;


public gas-work companies;


capital employed in works, pipes, tanks, gas-holders, apparatus;


yearly revenue derived;


tons of coals used in the year for making gas;


cubic feet of gas made in the year;


private burners supplied to about




public or street consumers (about


of these are in the city of London);


lamplighters employed;


gas-holders, several of which are double ones, capable of storing


cubic feet;


tons of coals used in the retorts, in the shortest day, in




cubic feet of gas used in the longest night, say

24th December

; about


persons employed in the metropolis alone in this branch of manufacture: between




the consumption was nearly doubled; and between




it was again nearly doubled.


In looking back from the position we have attained in science, art, manufacture, or in social or political economy, it must surprise any to see how


much we owe to the efforts of single individuals. It is often asked as an excuse for indolence, what can man do? It should rather be said, what man do? Passing by the cases which naturally rise to the memory on the thoughts of the subject, we may observe that the history of the metropolitan system of water supply affords an additional name to that long and illustrious list of men who stand out in our common history as the landmarks of Progress.

Sir Hugh Middleton bears some such relation to that magnificent system as Watt does to the steam-engine. He may rank less as regards the amount or value of his services as a discoverer; but as regards the sagacity which saw what could be done, and the strength of mind which determined to do it, and fulfilled that determination, he never had a superior. This praise will not we think appear to be more than justly belongs to him, after reading over the comparatively slight sketch that we shall be here able to give of his labours. As these will be better understood when we have seen the state of things in London before his interference, we will now follow the previous history of the supply of water to the citizens of London from the time when the

sweet and fresh

running streams before mentioned formed their only but sufficient resource.

The said river of the Wells, the running water of


, the bourns aforenamed, and other the fresh waters that were in and about this city, being in process of time, by encroachment for buildings, and otherwise heightening of grounds, utterly decayed, and the number of the citizens mightily increased, they were forced to seek sweet waters abroad; whereof some, at the request of King Henry III., in the


year of this reign, were (for the profit of the city and good of the whole realm thither repairing; to wit, for the poor to drink and the rich to dress their meat) granted to the citizens and their successors by


Gilbert Sanford, with liberty to convey water from the town of Tyburn, by pipes of lead, into the City.

These pipes were of -inch bore. They conveyed the water to , where the of those characteristic features of old London, a conduit, was built. Its site was near Bow Church. It consisted of a leaden cistern castellated with stone; and, being repaired from time to time, remained down to the latter part of the century, when it was removed in the course of the improvements that were made after the great fire. Other conduits were built immediately after this, and some of them supplied from it. A great was erected in on , called the Tonne. Among the other principal conduits were the Standard and the Little Conduit, both situated in , and that stood at the south end of , , which is thus described:

On the same was a fair tower of stone, garnished with images of St. Christopher on the top, and angels round about lower down, with sweet-sounding bells before them, whereupon, by an engine placed in the tower, they, divers hours of the day, with hammers chimed such an hymn as was appointed.


of water were also provided in different parts, which, like the conduits, in some cases drew their supply from the Thames. These conduits, it appears, used to be regularly visited in former times; and

particularly on the

18th of September, 1562

, the Lord Mayor (Harper), aldermen, and many worshipful persons, and divers of the masters and wardens of the


companies, rid to the conduit heads for to see them after the old custom. And afore dinner they hunted the hare, and killed her, and thence to dinner at the head of the conduit. There was a good number entertained with good cheer by the Chamberlain. And after dinner they went to hunting the fox. There was a great cry for a mile; and at length the hounds killed him at the end of St. Giles'. Great hallooing at his death, and blowing of horns.

[n.235.1]  of the

conduit heads

here referred to is shown in the following engraving.


On some very festive occasions the conduits flowed forth a more potent fluid than would delight the Naiads of the springs. At the coronation of Anne Bullen, for instance, claret flowed from the mouths of the lesser conduit in during the time the Queen was being welcomed by Pallas, Juno, and Venus; those deities having condescendingly alighted there to meet her. Mercury also was present as spokesman. He presented the Queen, in the name of the goddesses, with a ball of gold divided into parts, signifying the gifts bestowed on her by the Olympian triune, namely, Wisdom, Riches, and Felicity. Poor Anne Bullen! what a bitter mockery of the fate that awaited her!

Great as was the improvement consequent upon the introduction of conduits, they had inherent evils which showed plainly enough that they were fitted only for a transition state from a comparatively inartificial and not very thickly peopled society to presenting exactly opposite characteristics. Water had to be fetched by hand--a circumstance of itself productive of continual annoyance, were it only for the mere trouble and loss of time. But there were more serious evils. Of all the articles necessary for domestic comfort, there can be none necessary as a plentiful, lavish, even supply of water. Cleanliness without it is impossible.--Health, whether of the individual or the society to which he belongs, without it is impossible. Yet let us ask ourselves, habituated as we are to the use of an unlimited supply, whether, even under those circumstances, we should not be apt to lose some considerable portion of the advantages that supply affords if it could only be obtained in the old way? An inconvenience of a less serious


and more amusing nature attached to the conduits is illustrated to this day, by the collection of men, women, and children, sees gathered round a plug in the winter when the-pipes are frozen up.


In the Print-room of the there is a very curious sheet engraving--a woodcut, partly coloured or daubed over; a copy, apparently, of a print of the century. It is headed,

Tittle Tattle, or the Several Branches of Gossiping;

and has for its object a little good-humoured satire against what the author appears to have thought the prevailing female vice of the age. Accordingly, he has here represented groups of ladies at market-at the bakehouse-at the ale-house, where they are taking their


of beer-at the hot-house, apparently a bathing-house, where, in compartment, they appear to have just left, or are about to enter the bath, and in another are refreshing themselves with some kind of collation--at the river, where some of the washers are beating the clothes with a small flat instrument like a mallet (the batler)- at the church, where the men and women are standing divided into separate bodies, the last all eagerly talking--and, above all, at the conduit, where of the ladies, being unable to agree as to the right of precedence, are endeavouring to settle the matter by a summary but not very gentle or graceful process; in short, they are fighting, and with good old English earnestness. There is still other inconvenience connected with the conduits which must be mentioned; and that is, the great interruption they caused to the streams of business constantly flowing through the great thoroughfares of the metropolis, increased by the occasional throngs of people collected to witness squabbles of the kind just mentioned. It was this consideration that ultimately caused the removal of the chief ones after the fire, when Sir Hugh Middleton, and his predecessor, the Dutchman, at , had deprived them of their original claim to respect and preservation--their utility. feature of London which co-existed with the conduits we own we regret the-loss of-fountains. What a graceful ornament would a structure like that which formerly stood in be opposite the Mansion


House, in the room of the mere gas-pillar and posts placed there for the defence of persons crossing the road of that crowded thoroughfare!


It was not until that any great mechanical power or skill was applied in providing London with water; but in that year Peter Morris, a Dutchman, made

a most artificial forcier,

by which water was conveyed into the houses. On the Lord Mayor and aldermen going to view the works in operation, Morris, to show the efficiency of his machine, caused the water to be thrown over St.Magnus' Church. The City granted him a lease for the use of the Thames water and of the arches of for years; and years afterwards he obtained the use of another arch for a similar period. These were the waterworks famous for so long a period as of the sights of London. The original works supplied the neighbourhood

as far as

Gracechurch Street

no great distance, and the fact does not speak much for their efficiency. In water-works of a similar kind were erected near , which supplied the houses in West Cheap and around as far as . And this was all that was done in the way of supplying the populous

and still increasing London

up to the time of the appearance of Hugh Middleton,

citizen and goldsmith,

upon the scene. It appears that power had been granted by Elizabeth for cutting and conveying a river from any part of Middlesex or Hertfordshire to the city of London, with a limitation of years' time for


the accomplishment of the work. The man, however, was more difficult to obtain. Elizabeth died without having witnessed the slightest progress made in the matter. King James confirmed the grant; and then it was that, after all else had refused to undertake so vast an affair, the

citizen and goldsmith

came forward with the offer of his wealth, skill, and energy. The arrangements were soon concluded, and Middleton set off into the neighbouring counties to find a fitting steam. After long search and deliberation he fixed upon springs rising in Hertfortshire- at Chadwell near Ware, the other at Amwell. The positive commencement of the work took place on the . Owing to the circuitous route he was obliged to follow, partly from the inequalities of the surface, and partly, perhaps, from the excessive opposition he met with from the owners, the entire distance amounted to about miles, whilst the ordinary road measured but . Stow, who writes with an honourable enthusiasm both of the work and the author, rode down

divers Times to see it; and diligently observed that admirable art, pains, or industry were bestowed for the passage of it, by reason that all grounds are not of a like nature, some being oozy and very muddy, others again as stiff, craggy, and stony. The depth of this trench in some places descended full


feet, if not more; whereas, in other places, it required a sprightful art again to mount it over a valley in a trough, between a couple of hills, and the trough all the while borne up by wooden arches--some of them fixed in the ground very deep, and rising in height above



[n.238.1]  Bridges, drains, and sewers innumerable had also to be made. And all this, it must be remembered, was accomplished when engineering science was in a very different state to what it is at present. But, after all, these were the least of the difficulties he had to encounter. Little friendship, but a great deal of enmity, and a world of ridicule, attended him through all his labours. The opposition, indeed, raised against him was so serious, that he was unable to complete the work within the allotted time. The Corporation, however, set his mind at rest upon this point. But a more appalling danger was behind-want of funds. He had already sunk a splendid fortune in the undertaking; he had, in all probability, also used to the utmost whatever resources he could command among his friends and connexions. He applied to the City of London for assistance, and . And now he must have been utterly ruined but for the assistance of the King. James did many foolish things, and some that deserve a much harsher epithet; let this, however, always be remembered to his honour-he was wise enough to appreciate a great work and a great man; he was generous enough to risk something for their safety when no else would. On the , James covenanted with Middleton to bear an equal share of the expense, past and future, in consideration of being entitled to half the property. In a twelvemonth from that time the was in existence. The cistern by was built to receive its waters; and splendid was the ceremony attending their admission into it. This was a proud day for Middleton; it was rendered more gratifying by the presence of his brother, elected on that same day Lord Mayor. The procession was begun by

a troop of labourers, to the number of or more, well appareled, and wearing


green Monmouth caps, all alike, who carried spades, shovels, pickaxes, and suchlike instruments of laborious employment, and marching, after drums, twice or thrice about the cistern, presented themselves before the mount where the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and a worthy company beside, stood to behold them; and man, in behalf of all the rest, delivered a poetical address, more clever and more true than such compositions generally are:--

Long have we labour'd-long desir'd and pray'd

For this great work's perfection; and by the aid

Of Heaven, and good men's wishes, 'tis at length

Happily conquer'd by Cost, Art, and Strength:

And after five years' dear expense in days,

Travail and pains, beside the infinite ways

Of malice, envy, false suggestions,

Able to daunt the spirits of mighty ones

In wealth and courage, this, a work so rare,

Only by one man's industry, cost, and care,

Is brought to bless'd effect, &c.

After some further observations the speaker desired the Clerk of the Work to reach him

the book to show

How many arts from such a labour flow.

First, here's the Overseer, this tried man,

An ancient soldier, and an artisan;

The Clerk next him, mathematician;

The Master of the Timber-work takes place

Next after these; the Measurer; in like case

Bricklayer and Engineer; and after those

The Borer and the Pavior. Then it shows

The Labourers next; Keeper of Amwell Head;

The Walkers last: so all their names are read.

Yet these but parcels of six hundred more

That at one time have been employ'd before.

Yet these in sight, and all the rest, will say

That all the week they had their royal pay.

Now for the fruits then: flow forth, precious spring,

So long and dearly sought for, and now bring

Comfort to all that love thee. Loudly sing;

And with thy crystal murmurs strook together,

Bid all thy true well-wishers welcome hither.

At the last words the floodgates flew open, the stream ran gallantly into the cistern, drums and trumpets sounding in a triumphal manner, and a brave peal of chambers gave full issue to the intended entertainment.

In James knighted Middleton: would that his history ended here! It is to be hoped that, when Middleton ventured into the undertaking, he was prepared to pursue his object as a public benefactor from higher motives than mere gain; otherwise the result must have been lamentable indeed. For eighteen years after the completion of the there was no dividend whatever; and, in the , it amounted but to . each share. A share has been sold since that time for ! Whether he lived to participate in the prosperity that attended the undertaking after this time is uncertain; if so, it could only have been for a brief period. Such was the fate of the founder of that gigantic system which rendered conduits useless, and is now incessantly occupied in ministering to our wants,


pouring daily its or millions of gallons of water, through its innumerable channels, into the still thirsty and ever-craving monster City.

The quantity of water supplied by the different water-companies of London in - was imperial gallons. By far the greatest portion of this was drawn from the Thames, a small quantity from Hampstead, and the remainder from the Lea River and the . The capital expended on the works of these companies then amounted to ; their gross rental to nearly The number of houses or buildings supplied by them was nearly , each of which had an average supply of about gallons, at a --cost also, on the average, of about yearly. These results are, of course, given but as approximations to the truth, and require some modification. Thus, for instance, the average daily supply to private houses is much less than is here stated; the nominal average being considerably enhanced by the demands of large manufactories. Making, however, every allowance of this kind, still, how extraordinary is the amount of the general supply remaining! What other city in the world has provided for the comfort, direct or indirect, of of its population, a daily supply of about gallons of this chief article of life? The contrast is indeed striking between this state of things and the ancient conduits!


[n.226.1] It appeared, from an inquest held on the remains of a man discovered beneath Shire Lane, Temple Bar, in September, 1839, that there were persons who actually made a livelihood by going up these sewers in search of any stray articles that might be left by the stream. We have ourselves been told by one of them that he has been in the sewers for eighteen hours together, and that he has gone from the Thames not merely to Holborn, or Clerkenwell, but to Camden Town. They carry a lantern with them to scare away the rats. A stout heart must indeed be necessary for so frightful an occupation. The gases evolved are sometimes so powerful as to blow up the masonry; and even in lesser explosions those within may be stifled in the sudden flame. Such cases, we are told, have occurred.

[n.226.2] Stow, b. i. p. 23.

[n.226.3] Stow, b. i. p. 24.

[n.227.1] Stow, b. ii. p. 2.

[n.233.1] Page 97.

[n.233.2] Mr. Pedley, Engineer of the Alliance Gas Works, Dublin.

[] Stow, b. i. p. 24.

[n.235.1] Stow, b. i. p. 25.

[n.238.1] Stow, b. i. p. 24.